Yesterday the Open Space Alliance kicked off their summer concert series in North Brooklyn with a line-up that featured Karen Elson, Grizzly Bear, and southern rockers Band of Horses. Since it was about 90 degrees out, I anticipated having to deal with severely disgruntled attendees and a rowdy crowd. But to my immense delight and surprise, with the help of a cool breeze off the water and a near perfect lay-out, the five hours I spent at the show were the best of the weekend. There was a separate area roped off near the stage where alcohol was not allowed, food tents from The Meat Hook and Roberto’s Pizza, and plenty of space for all.
Karen Elson and her band kicked off the festivities. In addition to being absolutely gorgeous, Elson does have a lovely voice. But I feel that her music career inevitably faces a bit of an uphill battle, considering that she is married to Jack White who not only produced her album The Ghost Who Walks, but released it on his label Third Man Records. Unfortunately while she is on stage, I think the focus tends to rely more on the fact that we’re all watching a supermodel rather than her songs. None the less, her set was an enjoyable start to the afternoon, she was pleasant and comfortable in front of the crowd, and she displayed a strong set of skills on the guitar. Her situation is not an easy one, so I admire her bravery in creating the album and pushing forward despite the inevitable insinuations she must have known would follow after making this music.
Grizzly Bear took the stage after Elson and played the majority of their hit album Veckatimest. Starting off with “Fine for Now,” the set included both singles “Two Weeks” and “While You Wait for the Others.” A personal highlight was a glowing rendition of “Ready, Able” that was so pitch perfect I would never have been able to tell the difference between the recorded and live versions with my eyes closed. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Grizzly Bear live prior to this performance, and it is shocking how much talent these musicians have between them. Ed Droste playfully joked about his colorful swim trunks and flip-flops, commented on the nice view, and thanked OSA and the crowd for allowing the Brooklyn band to play an “at-home” show.
By the time Band of Horses were set to begin, the sunset was in full effect. As much as I love this group, I’m not a terribly huge fan of their latest release Infinite Arms. While I did enjoy “Factory” and “Laredo,” I was happier to hear tracks off Everything All the Time and I could see this reaction reflected in the crowd as well. There was a great deal more cheering, singing-along, and dancing for classic anthems such as “The Funeral” and “Weed Party” than for any of their newer material.
The funniest moments of the evening arose from the interaction between lead singer Ben Bridwell and one of his “super fans.” It’s always been my theory that there is one person in every crowd who seems to be enjoying the show approximately 100 times more than anyone else. This certainly held true for Andrew, a concert-goer in the front who remained shirtless for the entire set and seemed enthusiastically hell-bent on capturing Bridwell’s attention by shouting song suggestions. Bridwell finally conceded with a smile, asked his name and eventually worked it into the lyrics for both “The Great Salt Lake” and “No One’s Gonna Love You.” In fact, the fan’s name was mentioned so many times that it prompted the apartment owners located directly behind the stage to hang a sign from their window that merely said, “ANDREW” much to the delight of the band and the crowd. Needless to say, in addition to being a great show in a great venue, it was undoubtedly one of the best night’s of Andrew’s life.
Below is the group’s latest video for “Compliments” off Band of Horses’ Infinite Arms.